Everything English

Writing and Grammar Tips (beta)


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Category : Mechanics

Proofreading for Commas

Appropriate use of commas brings clarity to the copy you are proofreading, and to achieve that one has to follow certain basic rules of comma usage.

  • Items/persons or any other series of noun forms in a sentence must be separated with a comma.

Examples:

The teacher distributed drawing books, color pencils, some water colors and a paint brush.

He wrote a letter to my aunt, her brother, sister, and her mother.

Note that in the second example, a comma precedes the “and” in the sentence, highlighting the fact that separate letters were written to the aunt’s sister and her mother. Without the comma preceding the “and,” the sentence would have read as if a common letter was written to the aunt’s sister and her mother.

  • Two independent clauses can be linked with a comma to make a compound sentence.

Examples:

We had pleasant showers today, but it was better yesterday.

The sky is overcast, yet there is no rain.

Conjunctions such as “for,” “nor,” “yet,” “but,” “and,” etc that can link two independent clauses may be preceded with a comma. Also, a comma should be used before “etc.”

  • An “and” between two adjectives in a sentence can be replaced by a comma.

Examples:

That tall and muscular man is in his 50s.

That tall, muscular man is in his 50s.

  • Names and designations must include a comma between them.

Examples:

Prof Rao, MSc, M Phil, HOD (Botany)

Oh! Here you are, Prof. Rao!

  • Geographic distinctions as well as dates of month followed by year should have commas.

Examples:

Bangalore, Karnataka is known as “the Silicon Valley of India”.

I was born on May 6, 1977.

  • An Introductory word, phrase, dependent clause, adverbial clause, or a non-essential clause must be followed with a comma.

Examples:

Comma after an introductory word: Thanks, you’ve been very kind!

Comma after a phrase: I see, so when will you come home then?

Comma after a dependant clause: Since I am a teacher, I like to emphasize on the importance of good handwriting.

Comma after an adverbial clause: Standing at the doorstep, the little fellow smiled.

Comma in between a non-essential clause: I was, in any case, prepared for the verdict.

Verb Tenses

Verb is one of the most important parts of a sentence. It conveys the action part of a sentence – come, go, sit, stand, dance, write, read, run, climb etc. Tense is the form with which the verb must be presented in a sentence.

Examples:

I go home.

I’m going home.

I have gone home.

I have been going home.

I went home.

I was going home.

I had gone home.

I had been going home.

I will go home.

I will be going.

I will have gone home.

I will have been going home.

Notice here that the word “go” is being used in 12 different forms in order to convey 12 different meanings. All of these 12 forms emerge from the three basic tenses of the verb “go”:

Go (present tense), went (past tense), and gone (past participle) or,

Go (simple tense), went (past tense), and will go (future tense)

Let’s take another set of examples and identify the 12 verb tenses accordingly:

She breaks her hand –Simple Present Tense

She is breaking her hand — Present Continuous Tense (suggests an ongoing action in the present tense)

She has broken her hand — Present Perfect Tense (suggests a completed action in the present tense)

She has been breaking her hand — Present Perfect Continuous (suggest an ongoing action to be completed in the present tense)

She broke her hand — Simple Past Tense

She was breaking her hand — Past Continuous Tense (suggests an ongoing action in the past tense)

She had broken her hand — Past Perfect Tense (suggests a completed action in the past tense)

She had been breaking her hand — Past Perfect Continuous Tense (suggests an ongoing action to be completed in the past tense)

She will break her hand — Simple Future Tense

She will be breaking her hand — Future Continuous Tense ((suggests an ongoing action in the future tense)

She will have broken her hand — Future Perfect Tense ((suggests a completed action in the future tense)

She will have been breaking her hand — Future Perfect Continuous Tense (suggests an ongoing action to be completed in the future tense).

Unless it is a grammar school, not many English speaking people bother about identification of tenses. Their usage comes naturally with the fluency of the language.

Irregular Verbs

Verbs are one of the most identifiable parts of a sentence and one can cite an endless number of examples for verbs.  There are three basic parts of a verb:

i)                    Present Tense

ii)                   Past Tense, and

iii)                 Future Tense

Examples:

Present Tense Past Tense Past Participle
smile smiled smiled
found founded founded
look looked looked
climb climbed climbed
sleep slept slept

Note that the first four examples for past tense in the above table are derived by adding an “ed” to their respective present tenses. In the last example, however, the past tense of “sleep” does not follow a similar pattern. The correct word is “slept,” and not “sleeped”. Verbs that do not follow a regular “ed” pattern to become past tense are called Irregular Verbs. Such verbs do not have any set pattern for past tense or its past participle.

There are plenty of examples for irregular verbs:

Present Tense Past Tense Past Participle
teach taught taught
win won won
wake woke woken
throw threw thrown
cut cut cut
tear tore torn
come came come
rise rose risen
set set set
beat beat beaten
stand stood stood
tread trod trodden
fight fought fought
see saw seen
become became become
do did done
tell told told
fall fell fallen
swear swore sworn
slide slid slid
write wrote written
begin began begun
bite bit bitten
strike struck stricken
bear bore borne
choose chose chosen
drive drove driven
ring rang rung
run ran run
wed wed wed
burst burst burst
thrive throve thrived
weave wove woven
sink sank sunk
find found found
hit hit hit
deal dealt dealt
get got got/ gotten
give gave given